Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Occupy Atlanta uniquely OK with homeless "interlopers"

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 10:38 AM

click to enlarge JOEFF DAVIS

In Occupy encampments all over the country, the line between demonstrators — those living outside to make a statement about socioeconomic inequity — and the homeless — those living outside because they literally have no place else to live — is becoming increasingly blurred.

According to a New York Times article published yesterday, demonstrators in a number of cities are fed up with homeless "interlopers," who they complain are a threat to the legitimacy of the movement, not to mention protestor safety ...

[Homeless] presence is posing a mounting quandary for protesters and the authorities, and divisions have arisen among protesters across the country about how much, if at all, to embrace the interlopers. The rising number of homeless, many of them suffering from mental disorders, has made it easier for Occupy’s opponents to belittle the movement as vagrant and lawless and has raised the pressure on municipal authorities to crack down.

Occupy Atlanta's acceptance of the homeless — which is probably best demonstrated by the decision to actually move into a homeless shelter — serves as a foil to cities in which anti-homeless sentiment is becoming more common ...

In Atlanta on Saturday, demonstrators who had been thrown out of Woodruff Park by the police moved into upper floors of the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter in a full-scale embrace of the cause of the 600 residents who live below them. It gave the demonstration more of a political focus, and not incidentally expanded its size.

“The homeless bring numbers,” said Alex Smith Jr., 50, a former repairman who lives at the shelter and joined the protests. “They bring a voice.”

Yesterday, a couple of Patch reporters checked in at Peachtree-Pine, where they say about 100 Occupy Atlanta protestors have taken up temporary residence. The plan, apparently, is to reoccupy Woodruff Park on November 5 — with the help of the Nation of Islam.

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